Timely hitting leads Greensburg Central Catholic back to WPIAL title game
Anna Marie Gatti had a headache. Her teammates came up with the cure.
Alie Perz and Leah Daigle both hit clutch, two-run singles, lifting Greensburg Central Catholic to a 6-3 triumph over Riverside in a WPIAL Class AA semifinal game Wednesday at North Allegheny.
Perz and Daigle each delivered their big hits with two outs in a decisive fifth inning to get the No. 7 Centurions (14-6) back to the WPIAL championship game for the second straight year, where they'll meet No. 4 Deer Lakes in hopes of winning their first WPIAL title.
Even though sixth-seeded Riverside (16-3) tagged Gatti for three runs on 10 hits, the Centurions' bats backed up their sophomore ace, who came into the game with what she thought was a bad headache.
By the final out, of course, it was gone.
“You gotta go up there and you have to do it for your team,” Perz said. “I know Anna works really hard, and she wasn't feeling well today.
“I just felt like I really needed to do it for her and for this team. These girls are like my sisters, so anything that helps, you gotta try and do it.”
Greensburg Central held a 2-1 lead heading into bottom of the fifth, when the Centurions loaded the bases with one out. After catcher Carolyn Appleby was tagged out at home on a fielder's choice, Perz lined a single through the middle, scoring right-fielder Karly Mellinger and shortstop Nikki Adisey.
Then, after third-baseman Katie Hickey walked to re-load the bases, Daigle also singled to center to plate Julia Lang and Perz.
“I'm real pleased. Everybody picked up,” Greensburg coach Gary Ciarimboli said. “We had some timely hits. That's the way you do it.”
Conversely, Riverside out-hit the Centurions, but stranded nine runners. Despite scoring a run in each of the final three innings, Riverside left multiple runners on base in the fourth, sixth and seventh.
“We just couldn't put things together,” Riverside coach Pam McCarty said. “I mean, we tried, but our hits were sporadic and you gotta put them together to win. They have a good team.”
Kirsten Wilson went 3 for 4 with an RBI double for the Panthers, but took the loss on the mound, yielding six runs on eight hits over six innings.
Greensburg Central Catholic scored first in the second, when Hickey singled and Daigle followed with a bunt.
Caitlin Wass, Riverside's third baseman, couldn't get to it in time to get Daigle at first, but saw Hickey running for third. Wass' throw, however, was high, Hickey scored and Daigle advanced all the way to third base. Liana Denino then singled her home in the next at-bat.
“Put the ball in play, things happen. Small ball came through,” Ciarimboli said. “Things happen.
“They threw the ball, and that's how you score. We didn't throw the ball around. They had so many opportunities — I don't know how many they left on base — and they didn't capitalize. We did. But they're a great team.”
Two days after pitching a no-hitter in the quarterfinals, Gatti, already committed to Syracuse, said she didn't have her best stuff yesterday.
But she'll likely be on the mound again in next Thursday's championship game at California University.
“I'll have a week rest,” Gatti said, “and I don't only want to win the WPIAL title, I want to win the state title.”
Pat Mitsch is a freelance writer.